I remembered the moment it happened, it was like a scene out of a movie really. Walking home from campus with my head down and the ancestors telling me to look up and there she was…A white girl with braids. Now bear in mind it’s not the first time I see this but it’s the first time I was offended.
Before going natural in 2017, I thought that this was simply a hairstyle and everyone has a right to do whatever they want. But that is not the case, the fact that Becky feels comfortable wearing black hairstyles that have cultural context, whilst black girls grow up having those very hairstyles policed by a racist system that Becky belongs to (which she probably does not acknowledge) is more than appropriation it’s disrespectful. It’s not just that white people take what we create, it’s that it always get lost in translation. I say box braids, Becky says unemployment. I say Bantu knots, Becky says unemployed. Then when we finally assimilate and wear wigs and weave that emulate the European standards of beauty just so that we can get our foot through the door, Becky cries Wolf and says Appropriation!
Wearing straight wigs and weaves in different colours is not “white cultural appropriate” it’s forced assimilation by racist institutions. Next straight hair is not cultural is genetics, Asians tend to have straighter hair than white people. Lastly black hairstyles more often than not have cultural context. Dreads were worn by Egyptian Royalty, during slavery they would braid escape routes in the hairstyles.
The most disrespectful thing about cultural appropriation, is that Becky has the privilege to practice her culture while wearing black culture as a costume. Even if she is met with the stereotypes that are attached to black hairstyles. She can easily remove the braids and she is “Becky with the good hair” again. If I remove the braids after stereotypes, I still have to “deal” with my natural hair. It’s not that I don’t trust Becky, it’s that Becky thinks my black looks better on her (insert mind blown emoji)
I don’t care if Becky speaks Zulu, had a black nanny and her boyfriends name is Thabo.
Becky can never walk in your shoes.
Becky can never understand you.
Becky will never face your plight.
Becky will never revoke her white privileged.
Becky’s nanny belonged to a black boy or girl who grew up without a mother.
So don’t let Becky play dress up with your blackness.
Don’t let her Rachel Dolezal her way into you baptizing her with a black name like Mpho and hand her a “black card.”
Stop hyping up mediocre attempts at blackness!
Written By: Khanyisile Mayedwa